The Oklahoma City/Utah series changed in Game Two and the Thunder have yet to pull the momentum back in their favor. The good news is that OKC is just one win away from regaining home-court advantage. The bad news is that they’re one loss away from a potential disaster.
Here’s the problem though. Utah plays a physical/grind style of basketball and Oklahoma City just hasn’t been tough enough…particularly under the basket. Since losing Game One, in OKC, the Jazz have beaten the Thunder on the boards by a margin of 104-79. More specifically, Utah limited Oklahoma City to just 6 offensive rebounds on Saturday night.
When you’re not getting offensive boards it means one of two things. Either you’re shooting lights out, therefore no offensive rebounds to go around, or you’re just flat getting beat under the basket. A 47% shooting percentage from the floor for the Thunder and 35 defensive rebounds by the Jazz prove that it was the latter rather than the former. Oklahoma City is getting beaten inside.
At the center of the struggle is Steven Adams. Hampered by an injury, Adams has lived in foul trouble the last two games. In Game Two he was limited to just 22 minutes before fouling out with just nine points and seven rebounds. Game Three wasn’t much better as he only logged eight points and two boards in 26 minutes.
Pouring some salt in the wound, Utah is also averaging 45 points in the paint in their two wins as well.
Getting beaten inside led to the Thunder getting bounced in last year’s playoffs and it has them trailing a series they were favored in this year. With all due respect to Russell Westbrook’s guarantee, the key to turning the series back in Oklahoma City’s favor isn’t locking down Ricky Rubio. Rather, it’s finding a way to get tougher in the paint.